|TURKS AND CAICOS
Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
(Overseas territory of the United Kingdom)
Joined United Nations: 24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 13 November 2012
Grand Turk (Cockburn Town)
46,335 (July 2012 est.)
Elizabeth II of United Kingdom
Queen since 6 February 1952
The monarch is hereditary and holds that position for life or until
abdication. The Governor is appointed by the Queen.
Next scheduled election: None
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Dr. Rufus W. Ewing
Premier since 13 November 2012
Governor General is appointed by the monarch; Premier is
appointed by the governor general, typically leader of the
majority party of the House of Assembly. Elections: last held 9
Next scheduled election: 2014
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Black 87.6%, white 7.9%, mixed 2.5%, East Indian 1.3%, other 0.7%
Baptist 35.8%, Church of God 11.7%, Anglican 10%, Methodist 9.3%, Seventh-Day Adventist 6%, Roman Catholic
11.4%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.8%, other 14%
Overseas territory of the UK; No administrative divisions. Legal system is based on laws of England and Wales, with a
few adopted from Jamaica and The Bahamas
Executive: Monarch is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the
majority party is appointed premier by the governor
Legislative: under provisions of the Order in Council, the unicameral House of Assembly is dissolved and all seats
vacated for a period of up to two years; in the interim, a Consultative Forum, appointed by the governor, will be
elections: last held on 9 February 2012 (next to be held 9 November 2014)
election results: under provisions of the Order in Council, all seats in the House of Assembly are vacated
Judicial: Supreme Court; Court of Appeal
The first inhabitants of the Turks and Caicos Islands were Amerindians, first the Arawak people, who were, over the
centuries, gradually replaced by the warlike Carib. The first European to sight the islands was Spanish conquistador Juan
Ponce de León, who did so in 1512, though some historians claim that Guanahani, the native name of the island
Christopher Columbus called San Salvador on his 1492 voyage, is Grand Turk Island or East Caicos Island. Spanish
slavers frequently raided the islands, enslaving the Caribs of the islands. Only a year after first being discovered, the entire
archipelago was completely depopulated. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the islands passed from Spanish, to
French, to British control, but none of the three powers ever established any settlements. From about 1690 to 1720,
pirates hid in the cays of the Turks and Caicos Islands, attacking Spanish treasure galleons en route to Spain from Cuba,
Hispaniola, and the Spanish possessions in Central America and Peru. The islands were not fully colonised until 1681,
when salt collectors from Bermuda built the first permanent settlement on Grand Turk Island (thought to be so named due
to the presence of cacti with, what appeared to them to be red fez-like structures on their tops, but this not likely to be
true, since the fez was unknown to Turkey before 1826). The salt collectors were drawn by the shallow waters around
the islands that made salt mining a much easier process than in Bermuda. They occupied the Turks only seasonally, for six
months a year, however, returning to Bermuda when it was no longer viable to rake salt. Their colonization established the
British dominance of the archipelago that has lasted into the present day. Huge numbers of trees were felled by the
Bermudians to discourage rainfall that would adversely affect the salt mining operation. This deforestation has yet to be
repaired. Most of the salt mined in the Turks and Caicos Islands was sold through Bermudian merchant houses on the
American seaboard, including in Newfoundland where it was used for preserving cod. The agricultural industry sprung up
in the islands in the late 1780s after 40 Loyalists arrived after the end of the American Revolution, primarily from Georgia
and South Carolina. Granted large tracts of land by the British government to make up for what they lost in the American
colonies, the Loyalists imported well over a thousand slaves and planted vast fields of cotton. Though in the short term
highly successful, the cotton industry quickly went into decline, with hurricanes and pests destroying many crops. Though
a few of the former cotton magnates changed to salt mining, just about every one of the original Loyalists had left the
islands by 1820, leaving their slaves to live a subsistence lifestyle through fishing and hunter-gathering. The islands
remained part of the Bahamas until 1848, when the inhabitants successfully petitioned to be made a separate colony under
the supervision of the governor of Jamaica. This arrangement proved to be a financial burden, and in 1873 the Turks and
Caicos Islands were annexed to Jamaica with a Commissioner and a Legislative Board. The islands remained a
dependency of Jamaica until 1959, when they received their own administration, although the governor of Jamaica
remained the governor of the islands. When Jamaica was granted independence from Britain in August 1962, the Turks
and Caicos Islands became a crown colony. From 1965 the governor of The Bahamas was also governor of the Turks
and Caicos Islands and oversaw affairs for the islands. When the Bahamas gained independence in 1973, the islands
received their own governor. The salt industry, along with small sponge and hemp exports, sustained the Turks and
Caicos Islands (only barely, however; there was little population growth and the economy stagnated) until in the 1960s
American investors arrived on the islands and funded the construction of an airstrip on Provo Island and built the
archipelago's first hotel, "The Third Turtle". A small trickle of tourists began to arrive, supplementing the salt economy.
Club Med set up a resort at Grace Bay soon after. In the 1980s, Club Med funded an upgrading of the airstrip to allow
for larger aircraft, and since then, tourism has been gradually on the increase. It is common for foreign couples to be
married in the Turks and Caicos Islands today. In 1980, the ruling pro-independence party, the People's Democratic
Movement, agreed with the British government that independence would be granted in 1982 if the PDM was reelected in
the elections of that year. The PDM lost the elections to the Progressive National Party, which supported continued
British rule. The PNP's leader, Norman Saunders, became chief minister, and won the 1984 elections. However, in 1985
Saunders and two associates were convicted in the USA on drug charges. The PNP emerged victorious from the
following by-elections, but on July 24, 1986, the governor dissolved the government and replaced it with an advisory
council after a report on allegations of arson and fraud found that the chief minister post-Saunders, Nathaniel Francis,
along with four other PNP officials were unfit to rule. Under the careful guidance of the governor and the advisory council,
a new constitution for the Turks and Caicos Islands was created and elections held in 1988, with the PDM winning by a
landslide, and Washington Misick becoming the new chief minister. A new constitution was adopted 19 July 2006. On 24
March 2009 Misick resigned as Britain prepared to assert control over the government and transfer executive power to
the governor partly in response to a governmental corruption scandal involving Misick. On 30 April 2009, the
Constitution of Turks and Caicos was partially suspended for up to two years .Following an investigation into allegations
of widespread corruption and misconduct within the Turks and Caicos Government, the UK foreign minister directed the
governor to bring into effect on 14 August 2009 an Order in Council suspending Ministerial government and the House of
Assembly, and imposing direct rule for a period of up to two years. Parliamentary elections were held on 9 November
2012 and Dr. Rufus Ewing, the leader of the Progressive National Party, was appointed Premier by the Governor
Source: Wikipedia History of Turks and Caicos Islands; Caribbean Net News
The Turks and Caicos economy is based on tourism, offshore financial services, and fishing. Most capital goods and
food for domestic consumption are imported. The US is the leading source of tourists, accounting for more than
three-quarters of the 175,000 visitors that arrived in 2004. Major sources of government revenue also include fees
from offshore financial activities and customs receipts.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Turks and Caicos Islands)
With Bahamian independence, the islands received a separate governor in 1973. Although independence was agreed
upon for 1982, the policy was reversed and the islands are presently a British overseas territory. The islands adopted a
constitution on August 30, 1976, which is Constitution Day, the national holiday. The constitution was suspended in
1986, but restored and revised March 5, 1988. The territory's legal system is based on English common law, with a
small number of laws adopted from Jamaica and the Bahamas. Suffrage is universal for those over 18 years of age.
English is the official language. The death penalty was fully abolished on the Islands in 2002 when it was removed as a
penalty for piracy and treason. Turks and Caicos participates in the Caribbean Development Bank, is an associate in
Caricom, and maintains an Interpol sub-bureau. Defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom. In December of
2004 the Turks and Caicos Islands sought to become a new associate member to the Association of Caribbean States.
On March 16, 2009 the Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Gordon Wetherell, in a broadcast to the nation,
announced that the constitution will be partially suspended for two years following receipt of the final Commission of
Inquiry report into government corruption, which is due on or before April 30, 2009.
On March 24, 2009 Prime Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands resigned as Britain prepares to take administrative
control of the Caribbean territory. The Premier of the British dependency who has been at the centre of the corruption
probe into the ruling elite, said in a statement he was resigning to give way to a unified government. In August 2009, the
United Kingdom suspended the Turks and Caicos' self-government after allegations of ministerial corruption. The
prerogative of the ministerial government and the House of Assembly are vested in the islands' incumbent governor,
Gordon Wetherell, for a period of up to two years.
On 12 June 2012 British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that fresh elections would be held in November
2012, stating that there had been "significant progress with an ambitious reform programme" and that there had been
"sufficient progress, on the milestones and on putting in place robust financial controls."
A new constitution came into force on 15 October 2012 and Parliamentary elections were held on 9 November 2012.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Turks and Caicos Islands
Have received Haitians fleeing economic and civil disorder
Transshipment point for South American narcotics destined for the US and Europe
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Turks and Caicos
August 23, 2011
This Travel Warning is being issued to urge U.S. citizens to carefully consider the potential risk of travel to The Bahamas and the
Turks and Caicos Islands at this time due to the threat posed by Hurricane Irene. The Department of State has authorized the
departure, on a voluntary basis, of family members of U.S. Embassy personnel.
U.S. citizens in areas likely to be impacted by Hurricane Irene who do not have access to adequate and safe shelter should consider
departing until the storm has passed while commercial transportation is available and ports are open. U.S. citizens staying in The
Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos despite this Travel Warning should locate shelter, monitor media reports, and follow all official
instructions. Visitors to The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos should be familiar with their hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans,
policies, or procedures.
U.S. citizens are also urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the most up-to-date security
information. Travel enrollment will enable receipt of emergency and other messages via email. Current information on safety and
security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada, or, from other countries,
The U.S. Embassy in Nassau can be reached at (242)322-1181; the after-hours emergency number is (242)328-2206; the fax
number is (242)356-7174. The U.S. Embassy in Nassau is located at Queen Street #19, Nassau, The Bahamas.
For the latest information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular
Affairs website at travel.state.gov where theWorldwide Caution, Country Specific Information for The Bahamas, Hurricane and
Typhoon Season 2011 alert, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter, foursquare, and the Bureau of
Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
Click here to read more »
4 June 2012
Human Rights Council
Agenda item 10
Technical assistance and capacity-building
Report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, Michel Forst
Forced returns of Haitians from third states
A. Specific legislative and administrative frameworks concerning forced return of Haitian nationals by states
immediately following the 12 January 2010 earthquake
18. According to responses to the questionnaire and information gathered from other sources, following the 12 January 2010
earthquake, some States – including Canada, France, Mexico, and the United States – halted all forced returns to Haiti for
19. Other countries relaxed their policies and/or practices of forced returns for a limited period of time. The Bahamas temporarily
suspended for a ―short period‖ the forced returns of Haitian nationals,12 announcing that Haitians without legal status would be
released from detention centers and given temporary legal status.13 Likewise, the Dominican Republic announced it would stop
deporting Haitians who entered the country illegally, and for the year following the earthquake, forced returns appear to have
reduced.14 Jamaica indicated that Haitians arriving on Jamaican shores would not be turned away.15 Turks and Caicos, a British
overseas territory, also temporarily suspended forced returns of Haitian nationals, following the same policy as the United States
and the Bahamas of not deporting people who were already in the country on 12 January 2010 but returning those who arrived
after that date. 16 However, none of these States/territories responded to the questionnaire of the Independent Expert, so it is either
unclear whether returns were halted in practice or whether returns continued, as independent reports indicate.
24. In response to the questionnaire, several states – including Costa Rica, Denmark, Germany, Paraguay, Romania, Lebanon, the
Slovak Republic, and Slovenia – reported not conducting forced returns to Haiti since the earthquake.27 It is unclear however, if
any of these countries had in their jurisdiction Haitian nationals subject to deportation. There have been no forced returns from the
mainland United Kingdom,28 though independent reports indicate that there have been returns from Turks and Caicos, an overseas
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No Reports from Freedom House mentioning Turks and Caicos Islands after exhaustive search of their database. Please
forward any information you may have regarding Freedom House efforts on behalf of Turks and Caicos Islands to the
Pax Gaea World Report editor at the link below
Contact the editor »
Summit of the Americas fails to address human rights
Fifth Summit of the Americas
20 April 2009
The fifth Summit of the Americas has failed to recognize that human rights must be placed at the centre of efforts to confront the
many fundamental challenges facing the region.
Governments from every country in the Americas, except for Cuba, took part in the four-yearly meeting held in Port of Spain,
Trinidad and Tobago, between 17 and 19 April.
The 34 heads of state and government discussed the Summit's three principal themes: human prosperity, energy security and
The Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain was adopted by consensus at the close of the Summit on 19 April. Based on the
three themes, the Declaration fails to lay out a clear human rights framework for progress in these areas.
A number of governments, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Honduras, indicated that they were not prepared to formally
sign the Declaration. Leaders agreed to instead adopt it by consensus and have Trinidadian Prime Minister Manning sign on behalf
of all leaders.
The governments that had registered objections did not feel that the Declaration deals adequately with the current global economic
crisis. They also wanted to see strong references to the issue of Cuba's reintegration into Organization of American States (OAS)
and the lifting of the US embargo against Cuba.
Amnesty International delegates at the Summit urged the governments of the region to make a firm commitment to ensuring that all
measures taken in response to the current global economic crisis fully conform to their human rights obligations. But the
recognition in the Declaration of the responsibility governments have to address the crisis does not acknowledge human rights at all.
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V. Findings of Human Rights Watch’s Investigation
Offences against the Person Act, sections 76, 79. Caribbean states in the British Commonwealth inherited similar penal codes from
the British colonial administration, some of which have since been amended or nullified. For example, Bahamian law proscribes
consensual same sex sexual activity between adults in public but not in private. Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act of the
Bahamas, section 16(2)(b). Jamaican and Guyanese laws are silent on lesbianism, while all acts of homosexuality are illegal in
Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and St. Lucia. “Sodomy Laws in the Carribbean,” http://www.sodomylaws.org/world/caribbean.
htm (retrieved November 3, 2004). In 2000, Britain issued an order repealing sodomy laws in its Overseas Territories, which it had
to do to meet its own international treaty obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the International
Convention on Civil and Political Rights. This order affected laws in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands,
Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. “U.K. Ends Territories’ Sodomy Laws,” PlanetOut, December 22, 2000. Prime
Minister P.J. Patterson’s opposition to foreign intervention to repeal Jamaican sodomy laws is ironic, as it is not the same-sex
behavior, but the laws that prohibit it, that are the colonial imposition.
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Statement of governance principles in Turks and Caicos Islands
20 June 2012
Governance Principles for the TCI Interim Administration to work to between now and the elections have been published.
Indeed, it is stated in the new Constitution that all future incoming administrations must also agree their own statements of
Governance Principles with the House of Assembly and the UK Foreign Secretary within 28 days of taking office.
“Minister Bellingham thought it extremely important that the people of the TCI know that the Interim Administration is working to
the highest standards of Corporate Governance,” said His Excellency Governor Ric Todd.
“Further, he felt that it would be useful to allow the people to see the sorts of behaviours and ways of doing business that they
should expect of their future Governments too.”
Statement of Governance Principles for the Interim Administration
In the exercise of their functions, all organs of government in the Turks and Caicos Islands have a duty to give effect to the
1. All Government action shall be taken in a manner designed to safeguard the fundamental rights and freedoms of every person in
the Islands, as set out in the Constitution.
2. The government of the Islands should involve the participation of the people. The Government shall serve and take account of
the interests of all the people in the Islands. In particular, any process of consultation shall be accessible and meaningful.
3. All ordinances, regulations, policies and actions must be fair, proportionate, and capable of being implemented impartially. In
particular, decision-making required by law shall be objective, and the granting of discretionary powers shall be limited to those that
are necessary for good government.
4. The Government shall ensure that its decisions and acts and those of public officials are lawful, rational, proportionate and
5. The Government shall maintain a broad and long-term perspective on the sustainable development of the Islands, and shall
encourage lawful business and economic activity.
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Peter Ashman, Consultant, Commonwealth Foundation – Building Human Rights Capacity Project -
Report of his Visit to the Turks and Caicos Islands
October 23, 2012
The structure of human rights protection in TCI
TCI has extended to itself all the major UN Conventions that the UK has also ratified, except the Disability Convention. It has a
fundamental rights chapter in the 2006 constitution that will be further strengthened by 2011 constitution that is expected to come
into force in 2012. The responsibility for helping citizens to understand and ensure observance of their rights falls to the Human
Rights Commission, with ultimate recourse to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
The Human Rights Commission (‘HRC’) is appointed by the Government with 6 members having responsibility for the different
inhabited regions. Only the Chairperson is full-time and remunerated. It has no other staff and a very limited budget for its work.
One issue raised by many consulters was that very little information about human rights in the TCI is accessible, whether to
officials or to the public. The HRC does not have a website, nor is there any other website that contains adequate information about
human rights. Legislation concerning human rights is very hard to access, treaty body reports are not accessible to the public and
even the annual human rights reports of the HRC are only made available to the Government. The latest was published in 10 hard
copies. As a consequence, there is a great deal of ignorance and misinformation about human rights, leading many people to accuse
the HRC of only being concerned about the rights of foreigners and that islanders do not enjoy the same level of human rights
The constitution provides for a Complaints Commissioner to consider allegations of maladministration by the public service.
Following the retirement of the previous Commissioner in 2009, the Government has not appointed a successor as an economy
measure. As a result, the HRC has received many complaints about grievances unrelated to human rights (particularly concerning
immigration and labour issues) that have made its work even more difficult as it does its best to help people caught up in the system.
The system of treaty body reporting is not very transparent, and as a consequence there is little or no opportunity for civil society
to either input into the official reports or provide alternative reports to the UN monitoring committees.
1. The current project should strengthen the HRC by helping to create WebPages (that could be hosted on the Government website
as interim) where all relevant legislation, treaties and TCI official reports, HRC reports and future developments would be easily
2. The current project, if funds are available, should publish – in English, Creole and Spanish – a leaflet setting out the role of the
HRC and how people can obtain assistance from it, and what other avenues of redress are available for other complaints about the
public service that fall outside its remit.
3. If a future programme is developed, the HRC should publish a simple guide to the fundamental rights chapter of the constitution
– in English, Creole and Spanish – that would be available in all places of public information, including the web, and could be used
in schools as teaching material on human rights.
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THIRD INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR THE ERADICATION OF COLONIALISM
Caribbean regional seminar on the implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism:
goals and expected accomplishments
STATEMENT BY Turks and Caicos All-Party Commission Of the Constitution and Electoral Reform
(Mr. Conrad Howell)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
31 May to 2 June 2011
Third International Decade, for the Eradication of Colonialism. 2011-2020,
Theme "Implementation of the Third International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism: goals and expected accomplishments".
Ladies and Gentlemen, I submit to you that the handling of Turks and Caicos for the last two years, branded as DIRECT RULE, by
the British Government, resoundingly makes the case for the Eradication of Colonialism.
Addressing the Special Committee, re: Advancing decolonization, on February 24, 2011, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted that,
II The completion of the process of decolonization will require the concerted efforts of all concerned: first and foremost, the
Special Committee, the administering Powers, and the peoples in the Non-Self-Governing Territories. Dialogue aimed at improving
cooperation between the Special Committee and the administering Powers continues to be of utmost importance."
We in the Territory are truly grateful that we are not being left to our little selves to desire such illusions as self-determination, and I
personally offer thanks for this very opportunity to look at goals and expected accomplishments in this "Third International Decade
for the Eradication of Colonialism."
There is quite a difference between the world of 1945 and today's world. Back then there were some ninety six colonies and eleven
"Trusted Territories," while today there remain sixteen Territories. Notice carefully, however, that in the Caribbean or western
Atlantic, some twenty eight years has elapsed since the last sovereignty joined the ranks.
Only thirteen (1998) years ago, under the theme, "Progress through Partnership," a White paper listing several initiatives, changed
the status of the British Territories from "Dependent" to "Overseas," and granted the remaining Territories full British Citizenship -a
right that was said to be none reciprocal.
It is clear in the proposed 2011 Constitution, for Turks and Caicos, that such reciprocity, albeit, five years delayed and legal
residency required, has become the way the Administration intends to "enlarge the franchise." This is a recommendation of a single
Judge panel in his report of the 2009 CommiSSion of inquiry he presided over.
Today, what we see in the Territories, especially TCI and Anguilla, make it difficult for well thinking, patriotiC people to long for
anything but the Eradication of Colonialism. What exist mirrors so closely sixteen century colonialism, that then and now appear to
be identical twins.
1. The Interim Constitution has removed all sense of Democracy. The Governor has absolute authority. Even with his appointed
Advisory Council and Consultative Forum in place, he is under no obligation to follow their advice or suggestion. This is initiating
and empowering Autocracy.
2. Last September, the Minister responsible in the United Kingdom, suspended INDEFINATEL Y the time for general Elections and,
put in place milestones which must be met, in order for TCI, to return to free and fair Elections. This is a Human Rights abuse on
the part of the EMPIRE. (Declaration on Criteria for free and fair elections -154 session -Paris, 26 march 1994).
3. No representation of, for and by the people, leaves room only for continued abuse. While many felt this could never happen
under and by the British, it has on numerous occasions.
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Damian (Ric) Todd
Governor since 12 September 2011
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Damian (Ric) Todd
Head of Government since 12 September 2011